Squad plans to improve

Jordan Wickstrom

After another disappointing end to the season, softball coach Stacy Gemeinhardt-Cesler went to her office at the Jacobson Building knowing there would be much work to be done for the upcoming season.

“When the senior class left, they did a great job of laying the foundation,” Gemeinhardt-Cesler said. “We need to continue to get better and continue to get players in here that will keep getting better and help us qualify for regionals. Hopefully we can start working toward that goal this season.”

Led by five seniors, last year’s team entered the season full of promise and got off to a strong start before dropping 17 of their last 25 games of the season.

Ultimately the Cyclones finished 26-29, with a 4-14 record in the Big 12, an almost identical finish to the 2009 season.

“It was an unfortunate end,” Gemeinhardt-Cesler said. “This year we had a great opportunity, as far as our RPI was. That put us in a position where if we were above .500, and we just had a couple of those games go our way, then we would’ve been in regionals.”

Gemeinhardt-Cesler admitted the end of the season was a disappointment for all, especially since the team will be losing six players — five to graduation and one, infielder Carrie Monroe, will be leaving the team.

With six spots to fill, Gemeinhardt-Cesler will be coaching one of the youngest teams she has had since her first season at Iowa State.

“[Next season] is kind of hard to talk about because there is so much of it that is unknown,” Gemeinhardt-Cesler said. “I feel good about our newcomers, I feel good about the players within our program that were role players. I feel those players will transition nicely to everyday players. But right now it’s wide open as to what this team can accomplish.”

However, the team will not be without some experience. Senior pitcher Rachel Zabriskie will return for her final year at Iowa State, fresh off surgery to clean up some bone spurs, while junior outfielder Heidi Kidwell returns after hitting a career high .328.

But aside from a handful of players, the team will be full of youth, which excites Gemeinhardt-Cesler because she feels the team’s fresh look could be a positive for this upcoming season.

“I think this team is going to be a group that will have the ability to develop it’s own identity,” Gemeinhardt-Cesler said. “I look at adding [freshman pitcher Breeanna Holliday] to our pitching staff and hopefully she’ll help out our staff immensely. I just think there’s a lot of upside.”

Still, the Cyclones will need to find replacements for most of their infield and an outfield spot.

Despite this high number of vacant spots in the lineup, Gemeinhardt-Cesler seemed confident the Cyclones could find solid enough replacements from a “very strong” recruiting class.

“We lost five [seniors] and will get five new players to come in,” Gemeinhardt-Cesler said. “I think [the incoming freshman class] is a great class, I’m really excited about them. [Utility player] Courtney Ghee from Lincoln High School will help us out in the infield. [Utility player] Sarah Davison is a middle infielder who can also catch and play outfield and first base and fill up some of those empty spots.”

Rounding out the incoming class will be Holliday and fellow California native, second baseman Sara Rice, along with catcher Evan Folks from Kansas.

It will be a young team and an inexperienced lineup, but Gemeinhardt-Cesler hopes the team will be able to surprise everyone in the Big 12 and make a run at the postseason.